Partners in the new District Flats housing development held a grand opening Wednesday for the 72 new apartments constructed at 1306 Maple Grove Road in Duluth.
The $14 million development emerged from partnerships and community support. District Flats was awarded a $1 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). It also was assisted by the city of Duluth and Saint Louis County, and received support from area employers that need housing for their workforces. Business supporters of the project's grant application included Essentia Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Cirrus Aviation, Mills Fleet Farm, AAR, Maurices, Minnesota Power and ALLETE, which lobbied Minnesota legislators for the state funds.
“This is a testament to what a public and private partnership can really accomplish,” said Ryan Boman of Melhus Management and PLB Properties. “The market is responding really well and that’s a great sign for the project.” Eighty percent of the units already are leased.
The city provided planning and economic development support because of the strong demand and need for new apartments, according to Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.
“We have a huge housing need in the city of Duluth, and slowly but surely, we are picking away as best we can,” she said. “This project represents everything that is exciting and good about Duluth.”
St. Louis County staff also assisted, said Administrator Kevin Gray.
“I think we’re seeing more and more of a partnership at the state and local level. It’s working well,” he said.
It’s a challenge statewide to build workforce housing, DEED Program Manager Jeremy LaCroix said. He noted that the lack of good housing can impede economic development.
“This is a perfect place to live,” added Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Ross. The complex is located across Central Entrance from Miller Hill Mall. “We wish you the very best,” he told developers.
Contractors included Johnson Wilson Constructors and Architecture Advantage.